Vijay Shekhar justifies using PM Modi's picture to sell Paytm
When Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma used Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a front page cover on a newspaper for a Paytm advertisement advising people to use the e-wallet, many including political figures criticised the move.
“Paytm congratulates Honourable Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi on taking the boldest decision in the financial history of independent India! Pay with Paytm to more than 15 crore people and businesses. Join the revolution! Ab ATM nahin, Paytm karo! Download the Paytm app,” the ad read on November 9 and 10.
Image Source: Twitter
Speaking at the Retail Leadership Summit on February 15, Sharma opened his introductory speech with, “How many of you think we made a mistake in using the PM’s picture for our print advertisement?”
Sharma went on to polling the audience on whether they thought ad spends by Paytm in the last two months was ‘a little too much.’
“I am a first generation entrepreneur, a first generation marketer and CEO. I have had nobody else to guide me and no one else to talk to about these things,” Sharma said.
Paytm had allocated Rs 600 crore for branding and marketing in 2016-17. However in the month of December alone a report by YourStory claimed that this had increased 300%.
“If you think this is a mistake then this should be overlooked,” Sharma added as he spoke about the technicalities behind putting up a TV ad.
Sharma went on to explaining that for a TV ad how they would have to approach a media buying agency that would buy a place for the ad and sell it to advertisers. He justified further that the company would have to coordinate the timing and slots and channels of telecasting which would take a lot of time.
By that time, Sharma added that demonetisation would be out of the picture and Paytm would have lost an opportunity.
The company currently has an approximate user base of 180-190 million customers.
In the month of December Sharma claimed that Paytm had transactions of around 210 million. In January the card transactions rose 12% while in February the offline business was down 18-20%.
Total transactions went up in February as Sharma said that in the year 2016 Paytm completed one billion transactions.
“In one month the company sees average transactions nothing less than 200 million transactions. And per day we have 7-8 million check outs,” Sharma added.
The two consecutive days of using PM Modi as an advocate for Paytm got Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to take a dig at the e-wallet business.
Paytm biggest beneficiary of PM's announcement. Next day PM appears in its ads. Whats the deal, Mr PM? https://t.co/lfP0PrQICQ
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 10, 2016
To this Sharma replied with the following tweet.
Dear Sir, The biggest beneficiary is our country. We are just a tech startup, trying to solve financial inclusion & make India proud. https://t.co/3rI8r6W0EZ
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) November 10, 2016
Kejriwal also put out a video condemning the government of informing their associates a week before demonetisation so that they could invest their money in advance.
“I had sleepless nights when the thing with Paytm took on political colouring,” Sharma said while adding, “I didn’t know what that would mean for our business and how it would impact it.”